England evolution excites Kate Cross as new World Cup cycle begins

Kate Cross is excited by the competition in a new-look England squad as they begin their journey to the World Cup against India.

England open their new ICC Women’s Championship cycle on Sunday with the first of the three one-day internationals in the Royal London Series, with 2025 World Cup qualification points on the line.

Youngsters Alice Capsey, 18, and Freya Kemp, 17, have been handed their maiden ODI call-ups, while the squad will be missing injured regular captain Heather Knight alongside veteran Nat Sciver, who earlier this month announced she was taking a mental health break from the game.

England Women v South Africa Women – First ODI – The County Ground
Nat Sciver, right with Kate Cross, is taking a mental health break from the game (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s really exciting that we’ve got competition for places now,” said Cross. “If you looked at this squad a couple of years ago and it didn’t have Nat and Katherine (Brunt) in it, I think a lot of people would have panicked, but it’s just so fantastic that the youngsters are coming through and they’re taking their opportunities.

“We’re obviously in a fresh cycle for ODI cricket now, we’ve got that 2025 World Cup in our sights and how we’re going to prepare for that, so the fact that we’ve got so many people putting their hands up for selection I think is fantastic and it keeps us all moving.”

Bowler Cross, 30, admits she has not played as much for her country — just three games — as she would have hoped this summer, with seamers Issy Wong and Lauren Bell rapidly rising up the England ranks and competing for selection.

“The only thing I can go off is my past record in ODI cricket,” she said. “And I like to think that would stand me in good stead.

Alice Capsey England
Alice Capsey has earned her maiden ODI call-up for England (Will Matthews/PA)

“No one can rest easy when you’ve got the likes of an Issy Wong or a Lauren Bell behind you. I think it’s really good and it keeps selection juicy because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The last of the three-match series will take place at Lord’s on a historic weekend that will also see the Home of Cricket host its first women’s domestic final with the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy the following day.

The September 24 clash will also be the first time the venue has hosted an England international women’s fixture since their 2017 World Cup win over India.

Cross is relishing the rematch – though she also sees it as another amusing illustration of her squad’s generational divide, one that ultimately serves as a reminder of how opportunities in the women’s game have proliferated over the last half-decade.

Issy Wong the Hundred
Younger members of the squad like Issy Wong, 20, have played at Lord’s in the Hundred (Nick Potts/PA)

“There’s some really special memories (at Lord’s),” she said. “But it’s funny, because a lot of the young girls have been playing at Lord’s in the Hundred and it’s nothing too big for them.

“Whereas some of the older girls who have not had that much opportunity to play there, I’ve only played one game there and it was for the MCC.

“It just always feels like a special occasion when you get to be at Lord’s, and we’ve got some exciting things planned for next summer. It’s something we are excited to do, and hopefully will be a really good sign-off for what has been an incredible summer for women’s cricket.”